Hundred Years War

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The Hundred Years War is a term invented by nineteenth century historians, first in the Tableau chronologique de l'Histoire du Moyen Âge by Chrysanthe Desmichels (Paris, 1823). It is a label for the prolonged series of conflicts between England and France in, broadly, the fourteenth century. It was not a single war, and it lasted more than a hundred years - from 1337, when Edward III of England had his ambassador throw down the gauntlet to King Philip of France in 1340, and his fleet destroyed the French fleet at the Battle of Sluys, to the final surrender by the English of Bordeaux in 1453 following the battle of Castillon. It was principally about the Plantagenet claim to the French throne, and the question of fealty for the extensive English possessions in France. Originally this involved Philip's reclaiming the Duchy of Aquitaine from Edward.

Some notable engagements in the war, and certainly those best remembered in English history books, are

  • the (sea) battle of Sluys (1340), which gave control of the Channel to the English
  • the battle of Crécy (1346), at which, Froissart reports, King Edward (III) replied to a message that his son, Edward the Black Prince, was in some difficulty by saying "let the boy win his spurs." After Crécy, the English besieged and captured Calais, which they held until 1558.
  • the battle of Poitiers (1356), then sometimes spelled Poictiers (as was the ship of the line launched in 1809), in which the Black Prince captured the King of France, Jean II (1319–1364)